Hangzhou (China): Chinese e-tailer giant Alibaba on Thursday flagged off its Taobao Maker Festival in China's scenic city Hangzhou, about 180 km southwest of Shanghai, drawing hundreds of young entrepreneurs.
"The four-day festival from September 13 showcases and celebrates the originality and creativity of several young Chinese merchants selling innovative products on Taobao platform," Alibaba Group's Chief Marketing Officer Chris Tung told the media while flagging off the fest here.
Taobao, meaning "search for treasure" in Mandarin, is Alibaba Group's digital portal, opened in 2003 for consumers to buy and sell a variety of goods, ranging from electronics, home appliances, furniture and clothing.
The third edition of the fest, being held by the iconic West Lake in the provincial capital of Zhejiang and where $40-billion Alibaba is headquartered, has over 200 Taobao merchants displaying their products and technologies.
Among the products and technologies on display include giant robots, electronic gadgets, Internet of Things (IoT) devices for businesses, inventive takes on traditional Chinese clothing, calligraphy and mythology, virtual reality shopping experiences, anime-inspired products and a vintage market.
The innovations will have a great influence not just on China but the whole world, Tung said.
With over 10 million active sellers on Taobao, the company has used data analytics to identify the most popular merchants on the digital platform to take part in this offline fest.
"We will be presenting innovation prizes as part of the festival to recognise the achievements of young entrepreneurs on Taobao," the e-tail portal's President Fan Jiang added.
Several hundreds of consumers are expected to attend the four-day annual fest from across China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
For the first time, the festival will also host a 'night market' to feature indie designer fashion shows, live concerts and gourmet food.
While the past two editions of the fest were held indoors, this edition is taking place outdoors, by the picturesque West Lake in the city's downtown and is open to public.
The fest is aimed at sparking creativity among the youth of China and the world at large, an Alibaba spokesperson told IANS earlier.
The fest also provides a common platform for the sellers to share the stories behind their innovations with the buyers.
Beijing-based data analysis firm Analysys ranks Taobao as China's top mobile commerce platform in terms of sales.
According to data from the company in June, Taobao had a total of 634 million monthly active users, a majority of who are young Chinese aged between 19-38.
Many consumers who attended the previous two editions of the fest have turned merchants, inspired by others.
"The grand event has become not only an annual gathering of entrepreneurs to demonstrate their creativity, but also a window for the world to understand China's aspirational young consumers," added the official.
The 19-year-old Chinese conglomerate has been hosting the fest since 2016, as an offline technology and product expo, offering a forum for hundreds of merchants and consumers to interact with one another.
Around 80 per cent of the Group's e-tail sales are generated from mobile terminals of its portals, including Alibaba.com, Tmall and AliExpress. Taobao is a major contributor to these sales.
Co-founded in 1999 by Chinese teacher-turned-entrepreneur Jack Ma with 17 other partners (investors) as a platform to connect Chinese manufacturers with the world, Alibaba is one of the largest global firms, with 86,833 employees and millions of e-sellers.
The group's businesses and affiliates include its e-tail portals Alibaba.com, Taobao, Tmall and AliExpress, film-making firm Alibaba Pictures, cloud computing platform Alibaba Cloud, financial services company Ant Financial and new retail grocery stores Hema.
The fest is being held days after the company's co-founder and Executive Chairman Ma announced a succession plan, appointing the Chief Executive Daniel Zhang as the group's next Chairman from September 2019.
(Bhavana Akella is in Hangzhou at the invitation of Alibaba. She can be contacted at email@example.com)